LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, have reached a deal with the queen, bringing them a step closer to an independent life. In a statement issued by Buckingham Palace yesterday, it was announced that the couple will step away from royal duties and will no longer be using their HRH titles. The statement also said that they will keep their home in the U.K., but they'll be paying back the almost $3 million it cost the public to renovate it. We've reached the BBC's royal correspondent Jonny Dymond in London.
JONNY DYMOND: Hey, Lulu. How are you?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, so let's start with, what is the significance of taking away the HRH title, His Royal Highness, Her Royal Highness? They're not exactly going to be commoners now.
DYMOND: No, they're not going to be commoners. But I think it is an indication of where they stand in the royal rankings. And that is now pretty low down, if not outside of them. They will always be members of the family. And the Queen went out of her way in a very personal statement on Saturday evening here in the U.K. to say that they were valued members of what she called my family. But the fact that they are no longer going to use those titles is a really clear indication that, effectively, they are no longer royals. That goes along with the fact they're not going to carry out royal duties. They're not going to do royal tours. They won't receive public money. They're going to live most of the time in Canada. Harry will give up on his military appointments. This is a wholesale withdrawal from the official side of royal life.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Jonny, do you know if this was mutually agreed upon to have that happen or if it was a kind of punishment?
DYMOND: I don't think it was a punishment. I think the original idea after Harry and Meghan made their pretty shock announcement that they wanted to step back - that it would be a more half in half out arrangement - that Harry, in particular. But Harry and Meghan together would carry out some royal duties, whilst also pursuing an independent and more private life on the side. But I think the contradictions and the conflicts of interest became pretty clear to both sides - effectively, that Harry and Meghan couldn't be in the royal family, couldn't be working royals and be independent.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right. Let's talk a little bit about the money because, obviously, that's a big question. The understanding is that the Prince of Wales will continue to offer private financial support. What does that mean, exactly? And will they be cutting themselves off from all public funding?
DYMOND: They're pretty much cutting themselves off from public funding. And there's still a question over security. And the palace never comments on security arrangements. But I think it's pretty clear that the U.K. taxpayer is going to be contributing something towards their security. As far as the rest of it is concerned, they won't take any public funding for their day-to-day activities. They did receive some for their official duties. They're no longer carrying those out. So that's finished. And yes, an unspecified sum from Harry's dad, the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. He's been financing them to the tune of around $3 million a year...
DYMOND: ...For the last couple of years. But their own intent is to become what they call financially independent.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do we know what that means yet?
DYMOND: No, we don't. And, you know, it's tough because they will run a pretty expensive lifestyle, and they will need a fairly impressive income. They've said they will not do anything that would run against the values of Her Majesty. And that means it's unlikely to see them endorsing, you know, handbags and jewelry over Instagram anytime soon.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: This has gripped not only the U.K. but the world. Just briefly, what are your thoughts on what this break means for the institution of the royal family?
DYMOND: I think certainly, in the short and medium term, it's quite a serious knock for the royal family. I mean, it's good news they've come to a deal. It's good news there's no threats of kind of walking out and giving a tell-all interview - at the moment. But don't forget Harry and Meghan were big stars. They managed to reach people that the rest of the royal family didn't, really in particular young people, the younger people and members of ethnic minorities who were generally, you know, a bit more dismissive of the royal family than perhaps older people in the U.K. and around the world. So they were important as part of the reinvention and the refreshment of the royal family.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Jonny Dymond is the BBC's royal correspondent. Thank you very much.
DYMOND: Lulu, my pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.